Toxic Spill Out of Control; Fishing Banned
(Ierissos, Greece) The regional administration of central Macedonia is expected to declare a state of emergency in the bay of Ierissos, in northern Greece, due to the continuing discharge of toxic mine waste by Toronto-based TVX Gold into the bay. The Municipality of Stagira-Akanthos, where the spill has occurred, has required this measure to be taken and is calling for immediate action from all responsible authorities to stop the ongoing pollution of the bay.
Port authorities have issued a fishing ban in the bay of Ierissos, one of the richest fisheries in Greece and major source of income for the residents of the area.
Liquid wastes began pouring into the bay around December 7 when, due to high rainfall and underground mining, their volume increased dramatically and exceeded the capacity of the detoxification unit. TVX did not notify the authorities of the spill until December 10, when a one-kilometre stretch of the bay, directly in front of Stratoni had already been coloured red by the wastes.
Says Tolis Papageorgiou, a civil engineer and resident of Ierissos, "TVX has grave responsibility for not informing the local people about the health risks of the spill. Furthermore, they repeatedly tried to mislead the public, claiming that the red colour of the bay was merely "visual pollution"." However, the Prefecture of Halkidiki, that analysed samples of the runoff, found it to be extremely acidic (pH=2), and containing high levels of heavy metals. With the water treatment plant not operating, proper detoxification of the liquid wastes is impossible, despite the company's efforts to neutralize them at their source.
More than ten days later, the situation remains out of control. About 15000 cubic metres of wastes per day continue to pour into the bay of Ierissos and pollution has already spread 12 kilometres to the south. "It is evident that mining poses a serious threat not only to the health of the bay, but also to the livelihoods of the people that depend on it. What we have is a clear conflict of interests between the mining company and the people of this area," says Pavlos Tome, deputy Mayor of Stagira-Akanthos.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruling that prohibits mining under Stratoniki was officially served to TVX yesterday, but the company has ignored it and continues to mine. Local residents are taking all the legal steps to ensure that the court ruling is obeyed.
For more information contact:
Maria Kadoglou, Hellenic Mining Watch +3 0974 371 552, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For photos of the spill at Ierissos, visit: www.theminingnews.org/theminingnews.html or see Mine Spill in Greece Leaves Red Streak of Pollution in Scenic Bay